Help Build Smart Urban Futures
Help Build Smart Urban Futures
A recent PwC study of 28 cities worldwide revealed that the top mobility challenges fall into five main categories: congestion, environmental sustainability, affordability of public transport, road safety, and financing of active mobility infrastructure (e.g., walking and cycling lanes).
Although every city is different, the study found that the places making the most progress were actively engaged in creating digitally enabled ecosystems. Leveraging technology, data analytics, and taking an integrated approach to infrastructure, services, and communication networks, shows leading cities are optimising resources, improving public services and, as a result, enhancing the quality of life for their citizens.
Critics argue that smart city technologies may lead to potential issues around data privacy. Concerns have been raised about the massive amounts of data being collected from citizens, leading to questions about how this data will be stored, secured, and used. Moreover, sceptics point out that the reliance on technology could exacerbate existing inequalities, as certain communities might not have equal access to these digital services.
That said, many leading cities are already addressing some of the key mobility challenges being faced in large urban areas and are seeing tangible benefits from deploying new mobility solutions.
- Stockholm has reduced traffic congestion by 25% after introducing a congestion charging scheme. (IBM)
- Barcelona marked out a 95km2 space for the protection of air quality, where fossil fuel vehicles are restricted. (Barcelona City Council)
Equity and accessibility
- Ljubljana increased pedestrian surfaces by 620 per cent and closed the city centre (100,000 m2) to all motorised vehicles, significantly reducing pollution levels. (EBRD)
Micromobility safety concerns
- Norway introduced new rules and regulations in June 2022, successfully integrating e-scooters into its transport system and making Oslo an excellent model for other cities looking to implement micro-mobility solutions.
- The Netherlands is famous for its excellent bicycle infrastructure. A new bike park opened in Amsterdam’s central train station this year arguably takes the Dutch cycle obsession to a new level. Capable of holding up to 7,000 bikes, and built at a cost of €60 million, the facility is built entirely underwater.
One of the main obstacles to tackling the problem remains the notion that cities can independently manage all aspects of the mobility ecosystem themselves, without involving external or private entities. Given the interconnected nature of mobility, it is necessary to take a multi-layered approach, that takes into consideration the demand, supply, and foundational aspects of the ecosystem. Smart cities seek help to guide the design and management of urban mobility systems and break through any roadblocks.
One city that illustrates the power of adopting a multi-layered ecosystem approach is Singapore. With a vision to become “a 45-minute city”, the government has built an integrated transport infrastructure for bus, light-rail, and mass rapid transport, to enable residents to commute from their home to their place of work in under 45-minutes. And because sustainability is a key goal, they have committed to 100% clean energy for public bus and taxi fleets by 2040.
Already a technology leader among global cities, Singapore has been using smart sensors, connectivity, and cloud computing to enable a centralised bus fleet management system, which has improved service efficiency. To help bring its vision to life, the city has also proactively shaped the demand side via congestion fines, and vehicle quotas; the supply side has been bolstered through introducing a non-motorised transportation policy; and in terms of governance, the city has given clear guidance on future technologies, such as technical references for autonomous vehicles.
While municipal leaders and private sector companies in other parts of the world can draw inspiration from Singapore, replicating these efforts requires greater levels of commitment and collaboration, as well as taking rapid and aligned action in three key areas:
Infrastructure and Regulations:
- Increased investment in active mobility infrastructure, with prioritisation for bike lanes, e-scooter parking, and charging stations for electric vehicles.
- Establish flexible and responsive regulations that prioritise public safety and introduce legal frameworks that enable technology integration and unified standards.
Collaboration and Data:
- Build public-private partnerships that integrate mobility providers into public transportation network projects from the innovation to the execution stage.
- Establish data platforms and data analytics sharing agreements that help better understand patterns, and bottlenecks, and provide valuable insights to improve city planning.
Engagement and Sustainability:
- Engage citizens in the transformation process, by providing education about the benefits of smart mobility solutions and encourage adoption through incentives.
- Show real-life examples of the positive impact new mobility solutions are having on society, and proof that sustainability initiatives are resulting in healthier urban living.